Namibia: Business Condemns Visa Requirements for South Africans

Namibian businesses are gravely concerned about the government's decision to compel South African citizens to acquire business visas at the Namibian High Commission in Pretoria prior to travelling to Namibia for business activities.

Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry CEO Tarah Shaanika said the requirement, which started in March this year, has already proven to have a significant negative impact on cross-border business activities between Namibia and South Africa.

"It is unfortunate that this decision is enforced at a time when the Southern African Development Community (SADC) is making progress in deepening regional economic integration, which should result in increased intra-regional trade and commercial activities," he said.

Shaanika said the government, which has been a strong proponent of deeper regional economic integration, moving to enforce such a decision is not only surprising, but deeply disappointing.

South Africa is Namibia's largest trading partner, and the common history of the two countries has created a situation where the business bonds between the two countries are strong and wide, he stated.

He said so many businesses in Namibia which play a pivotal role in this economy are subsidiaries of or have strong commercial relationships with South African companies, which requires the representation of such companies on the boards of some Namibian companies.

"For someone to be required to apply for and acquire a visa in advance for a board meeting in Namibia that lasts for two hours is incomprehensible, especially when Namibians are not treated the same way by the South African government," Shaanika stressed.

He said the chamber has formally taken up this issue with the government, but seemingly there's no interest to have it resolved on the part of government.

The chamber is worried that this action will make it more costly and more unrealistic for Namibian businesses to run smooth operations.

"We, therefore, once again appeal to the government to reconsider this action and remove the visa requirement for South African citizens travelling to Namibia on business in its current form. We strongly propose that South African citizens be allowed to get such visas at entry points, as is the case with Namibian citizens travelling to South Africa for business," he said.

Source: The Namibian